Basket Tossing 101

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Basket tosses are one of the most crowd pleasing stunts performed by cheerleaders. There is nothing more amazing than to see a cheerleader flying through the air with such grace and control. For those unfamiliar with cheerleading, it may seem like basket tosses are accomplished with ease, but in reality, basket tosses require a high degree of technique and skill to complete correctly.

A basket toss is a stunt in which two bases and (typically) a back spot (some people format their base group differently) toss a flyer into the air and catch her in a cradle position. This stunt gets its name from the grip used by the bases to create what is known as the basket. Bases interlock hands by grabbing their own wrist with one hand and their fellow base’s wrist with the other. This creates a square that appears to have a woven basket-like pattern. This square basket becomes the platform upon which the flyer’s feet will be placed as she is tossed into the air.

Maintaining a flat and steady surface for the flyer’s feet is critical. If it is wobbly, the throwing motion will most likely be uneven and result in a useless toss. Bases should practice the tossing motion numerous times without the flyer to ensure that both bases are in sync. Often with female bases, the basket created by the bases’ hands is smaller than the surface area of the flyer’s feet. This is perfectly normal. In such instances, it is important that the flyer’s feet not be on the edge of the basket, but instead placed squarely in the middle of the basket. Placing the flyer’s feet in the center of the basket will allow her to receive the most powerful throw from each base. If she is off-center, the brunt of the flyer’s weight will be felt by one base more than the other, resultingin a lopsided toss.

The bases’ body position is very important in basket tosses, not only for success of the stunt, but for safety. Cheerleaders often make the mistake of wanting to stand in a forward lunge position and extend their arms straight out toward the other base at an angle. By tossing like this, you have already eliminated the majority of your power. As a base, your feet should be shoulder width apart, and you should assume a squat position. You should be fairly close to your basing partner. There should be just enough space so that the flyer can cleanly load into the basket without grazing either base. This closeness will allow you and your basing partner to maximize your power. This stance will also help keep you from straining your back muscles; throwing from a position where you are bent over removes your legs from the equation and shifts the throwing responsibility solely to your arms and back. The best basket tosses are thrown using the whole body, especially the legs. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart in a squatting position will allow you to explode off the ground with your flyer, as she is released from the basket.

When loading into the basket, it is crucial that the flyer maintain control of her own weight by bracing herself on the shoulders of her bases. Bases should be able to remove their basket together, and the flyer should be capable of holding her load position with no assistance. By controlling her own weight in the basket, the flyer removes the burden of tossing dead weight from the bases.

Once the toss has been initiated, the bases’ arms, which should have been fully extended with the toss, should never come down. Leaving your arms up will allow you to catch the flyer as high as possible and slow down the catch. This helps ensure a safe and clean landing.

Here are some additional tips on successfully throwing basket tosses.

  • Your basket tosses should stay in one spot, unless you are choreographed to relocate. If you are catching your flyer in a spot different from where you began, something is off with your tossing method.
  • Always follow your flyer. A base’s most important responsibility is to ensure the flyer’s safety. If your flyer is tossed 50 feet forward, you should be sprinting 50 feet along with your flyer. Move with your flyer as she moves. Don’t wait until she begins to come down to start tracking her, because you probably will not make it there in time.
  • A flyer’s arms are critical to the toss. Pushing off of your bases’ shoulders aggressively and driving your arms up into a touchdown motion will help to elevate your toss. This motion is called riding.
  • You should not be adding skills into your basket toss until the group has successfully mastered a straight ride basket toss.

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